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Home Wireless Networking: Standards Review

10.02.2009 (9:09 am) – Filed under: How To Guides

Home Wireless Networking

Today wireless networking has almost become synonymous with home networking. Go down to Best Buy, pick up a Linksys router, connect in your laptop and you are all set. While there are a few basic security features that should be turned on, this wireless solution is more than sufficient for that majority of home networkers. However, there is a much wider world to explore when considering wireless networking. First and foremost one must decide on a standard. For personal use you will see as many as four different letters describing wireless technologies, A, B, G, and N, but to the laymen, these terms mean nothing more then a spoonful of alphabet soup.

Wireless A

Wireless A came out at the same time that Wireless B did. It provides faster data transfer speeds but much shorter range then its B counterpart. Generally Wireless A did not catch on or achieve very high market saturation. Few routers or wireless equipped laptops even support this standard anymore and with newer standards such as Wireless G and Wireless N, this standard is mostly obsolete.

Wireless B

Wireless B was significantly slower than it’s a counterpart, but it did however offer superior range and home coverage making it ideal for early home networking solutions. Its two bigger drawbacks however are in the reduced speed, and the interference the signal can receive from microwave ovens and some cordless phones. Most new laptops and wireless devices that support Wireless G are still backwards compatible with Wireless B as it is still found in many locations.

Wireless G

Wireless G operates on the same frequency as Wireless B, however, it uses the same still of signal as Wireless A, allowing it to send at a much higher rate than Wireless B. Wireless G opened the door to widespread implementation of wireless technologies. Wireless G made wireless much more prevalent both for home users as well as business class networks. Like Wireless B though it still suffered from the same interference.

Wireless N

Wireless N despite still being in draft phase is now becoming very common in both the home and business markets. Offering both incredible improvements over range and speed, Wireless N is also backwards compatible with both Wireless B and G. In terms of performance, Wireless N is the current leader in what it can offer, and is not significantly more expensive than Wireless G.

Choosing a standard – G versus N

In implementing a home wireless solution, the question comes up, should one go with G or N? Wireless G is most likely more than sufficient for the average home user. With companies like Linksys putting out their RangeBooster, and SpeedBooster options, why would one want to spend any more money than they have to? Especially considering that more than likely any existing laptops will only support wireless G. Perhaps the single biggest reason to adopt Wireless N is scalability. Even if all of your devices are Wireless N, a Wireless N router will still produce a stronger signal. Also, as more devices start supporting wireless N adopting a Wireless N router now will mean that the infrastructure will already be in place. Ultimately the decision needs to be made on cost versus performance and scalability, based on both ones current needs as well as future growth.

One Response to “Home Wireless Networking: Standards Review”

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